Review: Undead Knights

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We as humans have always had a fascination with the undead.  The undead have been discussed in books, danced in music videos, and murdered in video games on a regular basis.  In Tecmo’s Undead Knights, the undead take center stage.  This time, one of the main focuses is to create undead minions from sacrificing your enemies during battle.  Can raising the undead to fight for you really be that fun?

Undead Knights has you playing as one of the three members of the Blood family.  The Blood family were murdered for speaking ill of the king’s new wife, but were brought back from the grave and given the power to create their own undead minions.  The Blood family seeks revenge on the king and thus that’s how our story begins.

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Missions don’t offer a wide-variety of objectives.  For the most part you either need to storm a castle, or kill a specific enemy in order to progress to storming a castle.  The combat is also bland and limited in the amount of combos you can perform against enemies.  Speaking of combat, you’ll be doing a lot of combating with enemies if you decide to bring down their health to zero instead of just turning them into an undead minion.  As powerful as my characters were, I would spend a minute just trying to kill one foot soldier.  And yet, if I decided to turn him into an undead minion, that could take 5-10 seconds of combat. I felt I was being forced into turning anything and everything into an undead minion instead of trying to kill them.  Enemies for the most part are just regular knights with a couple of tweaks to them.  Mid-bosses and boss battles take a little bit of strategy to take them down and will actually test your skill of the game’s challenging controls.

The purpose of creating undead minions is to help in fighting enemies by allowing them to aimlessly attack enemies, throw them at , even being able to order them to attack a specific target.  Doing this puts all of your undead focus on one target, but it also leaves you open to attacks as you can’t see your immediate surroundings when you order your zombies to attack.  A handy mini-map can help in this situation as it highlights who your enemies and allys are.  The undead minions also are used to destroy barricades, solve puzzles, and even build bridges.  For being mindless followers, they can be quite helpful.

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As you progress through missions, you’re given souls, which can be used to upgrade your three characters.  Each character plays very similar, with only their combos being unique.  I personally kept to upgrading a single character as the more I put into that one character, the more I’d benefit from playing as that character through missions.  There are also “Records of Revenge” which act as the game’s achievements / trophy system.  This can add a bit of replayability if you’re the type who needs to unlock achievements / trophies in every game you play.

If you’re the type to play your PSP with headphones or connecting it to a stereo system, I would highly recommend you don’t do that with Undead Knights.  The game has a soundtrack that would make hardcore metal heads cringe in agony.  The worst part of the overly metal soundtrack is that it’s the same song throughout the entire game, including the main menu!  It was so bad I had to turn the background music down to zero just so I can play through the game without ending up with a serious headache.

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There was a lot of potential with Undead Knights.  The premise sounded like it could be an interesting game, but playing hour after hour of the same repetitive missions, uninspired enemies, and puzzles that are easily solved, Undead Knights falls flat of its awesome sounding concept.  In the end, I felt like I was just another mindless undead minion.


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